TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) – Lingering issues with a recently constructed splash pad at a downtown Traverse City park may delay the planned redevelopment of the city-owned waterfront along Grand Traverse Bay, officials say.
Several members of the city commission said Monday that they want the splash pad problems fixed before they take up the next phase of the development plan: construction of a 500-foot-long fishing pier, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.
“Without resolving this, we may be going into the pier project with a significant amount of credibility concerns among the public,” Commissioner Jeanine Easterday said.
City Manager Jered Ottenwess gave an update on the $2.9 million Clinch Park reconstruction. His report said contractors failed to obtain a number of required permits before the refurbished park opened June 25, including a construction permit for the splash pad.
The Record-Eagle reported that because of a design flaw, the fresh water tank for the splash pad was tied directly to the city’s sanitary sewer and did not have a required air gap to prevent sewage backups.
The splash pad operated for parts of several days. On June 30, it was shut down about 15 minutes after being turned on when officials discovered what turned out to be raw sewage flowing through the spray where children were frolicking, the newspaper reported.
Ottenwess said four or five children played in the splash pad that day before the $360,000 device was turned off. But the Grand Traverse County Health Department later reported that 19 people showed symptoms consistent with exposure to raw sewage.
Health officials considered anyone who had been exposed to the water June 29-30 a potential victim because no one knew when the sewage backup began, the Record-Eagle reported.
The device was turned on again Aug. 31 but had more troubles, including accumulation of runoff from nearby sidewalks, lawns and flower beds.
Mayor Michael Estes said city staffers have to resolve the splash pad issues before the commission can approve any more bay front projects.
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